Christian Apologetics - Lesson 23

Is Jesus the Only Savior

The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

Ronald Nash
Christian Apologetics
Lesson 23
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Is Jesus the Only Savior

Is Jesus the Only Savior

Part 1

I.  Introduction

A.  Outward Apologetics

B.  Inward Apologetics

1.  Pluralism - John Hick

2.  Inclusivism

a.  Among Roman Catholics

b.  Among Evangelicals

C.  Three Basic Answers

1.  No - Pluralism

2.  Yes, but - Inclusivism

3.  Yes, period - Exclusivism

  • Introduction to Apologetics.

  • Apologetics involves finding evidence and presenting arguments to defend the Christian faith.

  • Two prominent worldviews are Christian theism and naturalism.

  • The law of non-contradiction states that A cannot be B and non-B at the same time and in the same sense.

  • Explanations and responses to different worldviews.

  • If God is good and all powerful, then why does evil exist?

  • Discussion about how the existence of evil is consistent with God's character.

  • Your noetic structure, presuppositions and view of epistemology are important elements in the formation of your worldview.

  • Discussion of deductive presuppositionalism vs. inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Objections to inductive presuppositionalism.

  • Arguments for and against evidentialism.

  • Arguments for and against foundationalism.

  • Discussion of natural theology.

  • There are valid, sound and cogent arguments for the existence of God, but no coercive proofs.

  • Discussion of different arguments for God's existence.

  • One version of the cosmological argument for God's existence emphasizes God as first in time, another emphasizes God as first in importance.

  • A possible world is a way the real world could have been. Modal logic, propositions, state of affairs and eternal entities are some of the considerations when discussing a possible world.

  • Something is logically possible if its description does not include a logical contradiction. The existence of the laws of knowledge refute the system of naturalism.

  • Middle knowledge is a form of knowledge attributed to God by Molina.

  • Miracles are a dividing line and central to Christianity.

  • David Hume's rational arguments against miracles and responses to those arguments.

  • Two miracles central to Christianity are the incarnation and resurrection.

  • The question of whether or not Jesus is the only savior touches on pluralism, inclusivism and exclusivism.

  • Pluralism is the view that all religions have salvific value.

  • Salvation is totally the work of God and all children who die in infancy are elect of God.

  • Inclusivism is the view that even though the work of Christ is the only means of salvation, it does not follow that explicit knowledge of Christ is necessary in order for a person to be saved.

  • Discussion from a biblical perspective of God's character and attributes.

  • Open theists believe that God does not have a perfect knowledge of the future.

  • Divine omnipotence and divine omniscience are two attributes of God.

  • When contemplating life after death, remember, Jesus has been there and come back. Will you commit your life to him or reject him?

These lectures were given at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida during the fall of 2001.


Dr. Ronald Nash

Christian Apologetics


Is Jesus the Only Savior

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:02] We're going to talk about the book. Is Jesus the Only Savior? This is so important for all kinds of reasons. Let me place this book and these discussions in the context of apologetics and what I'm going to say here. This will also be relevant to what we're going to start next week, which is the concept of God book. When you do apologetics, apologetics is is a two faced discipline. Sometimes apologetics must be directed to people who are outside the camp of professing Christendom. Let me repeat that Sometimes apologetics must be addressed to the enemy that is outside the camp. That would be a theologians, which is a polite way of saying atheists. Okay? And it would also be addressed to people who are enemies of the Christian faith, even though they might profess to be practitioners of some other religion. A lot of what we've done up to this particular point has been addressed to people outside the camp. Now, to some extent, we're going to turn inward and we're going to recognize that apologetics must also sometimes be used to defend the historic Christian faith against people who pretend or mistakenly believe that they are inside the camp. Okay. Now we're going to look at two positions. We're going to look at pluralism. And in case you don't know what pluralism is, a position which marks its holder as an enemy who is outside the faith. And the major proponent of pluralism that we're going to examine is a British thinker named John Hick, who is ordained in the Presbyterian Church of the USA. Yes. Wow. Is right.


[00:02:24] John Hick believes that there are many saviors and Jesus is only one of them. The other position is inclusive ism, and as I'll explain, inclusive ism has become the dominant position of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. Pope John Paul, the second and all of his minions in the Vatican are inclusive ists. Okay. This is this is this is an incredible move on the part of the church, the Catholic Church back in 1960. And I said this yesterday to my history philosophy student back in 1960, I was pastoring a Presbyterian church in fall River, Massachusetts, that is, and was probably 90%, 99% Roman Catholic. And for people who are listening here, I'm not on some kind of crusade or anything else like that. I know that I have met many God fearing Roman Catholics. Who are genuinely born again. But anyway, back in 1960, I was pastoring in this heavily Roman Catholic city in southeastern Massachusetts. And the general attitude among many of the priests in that city was that Protestant, no Protestant is saved, no Protestant is going to be in heaven. All Protestants are going to hell. There is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. Well, I used to preach differently in my little pulpit, but then all of a sudden, Vatican two came along. And today, Roman Catholics, including the pope, believe that heaven is going to be full of millions and millions of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and take your pick of people who never even heard about Jesus, let alone believe in Jesus. Now, that's quite a switch from what the American Roman Catholic leaders that I knew about before 1960 taught. But you see, if today the Vatican teaches that there will be millions of Hindus, Buddhists, and so on in heaven, then surely there are going to be some Protestants there too, aren't there? Huh? Especially since we name the name of Christ and regard him as Lord.


[00:04:50] You can hardly you can hardly keep Protestants out of heaven when you're going to let heaven be full of people who never believed in Jesus or that's that's the Roman Catholic version of inclusiveness. But regrettably, as I will also explain, inclusive ism has become has taken up residence within evangelicalism when within the body of people who profess to trust the Bible as the Word of God. And this is now serious, serious stuff. Now, as I indicate, there are three basic answers to the question Is Jesus the only savior? There is the simple answer of no. Jesus is not the only Savior, and that is the answer of pluralism. There are many roads to heaven. There are many saviors. But fortunately, Jesus is one of them. Well, I'm speaking with a little bit of sarcasm, and I know that's out of character for me. Then the second position is, yes, Jesus is the only savior, but that's the position of inclusive ism. No one gets to heaven apart from the saving, redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's redemptive work is ontologically necessary for salvation, but it is not epistemological. It's necessary for salvation, which is a fancy way of saying you're no one's going to be saved without the incarnation and the atonement and the resurrection. But nobody has to know about it in order to receive its benefits. That's inclusiveness. And then there's the third position, which is, yes, period. And that's a position that can be is called exclusive ism. Okay. There is only one savior. That Savior's name is Jesus Christ. No one can be saved apart from his redemptive work, and no one can be saved. Who doesn't know about that redemptive work and doesn't believe in him consciously and knowingly? That's exclusive.


[00:07:09] There's another name for it. It's also called Restrictive ISM. Now, these are not happy terms. All right? And because we live in a tolerant, open minded world for people, for people to say I'm an exclusivist, it's not always a good thing to do, but I'm sorry. That's the way it is. Thank you for listening to this lecture. Brought to you by biblical training, dawg. Your prayers and financial support enable us to provide a biblical and theological education that all people around the world can access. Blessings. As you continue to study and live out your faith and as you grow in your relationship with the Lord.